Luk 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Luk 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Luk 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were talking and the question of what is the difference between religion and spirituality .
I know a lot has been written and said on this subject and much seems to be written by folks who seem to be justifying themselves or their lifestyles. If I am spiritual will I shun attending church, or become a member of some strange fellowship? Do spiritual people ignore what God has said in His written word? Can you grow and change and become a more moral person and be religious? So many more question could be asked but, I think, if we understand the difference then the answers will become clear.
I really like the way the picture above has defined the difference but just for clarity here are the dictionary definitions:
1. Essence distinct from matter; immateriality.
If this light be not spiritual, it approacheth nearest to spirituality.
2. Intellectual nature; as the spirituality of the soul.
3. Spiritual nature; the quality which respects the spirit or affections of the heart only, and the essence of true religion; as the spirituality of Gods law.
4. Spiritual exercises and holy affections.
Much of our spirituality and comfort in public worship depend on the state of mind in which we come.
5. That which belongs to the church, or to a person as an ecclesiastic, or to religion; as distinct from temporalities.
During the vacancy of a see, the archbishop is guardian of the spiritualities thereof.
RELIGION, n. relij'on. [L. religio, from religo, to bind anew; re and ligo, to bind. This word seems originally to have signified an oath or vow to the gods, or the obligation of such an oath or vow, which was held very sacred by the Romans.]
1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.
There are more definitions for religion than the one I choose in the interest of space and trying to keep from boring you.
I want you to be aware of something that is not blatantly obvious in these definitions; Religion, is about you being obligated to a belief or system regarding a Supreme Being, Spirituality on the other hand is more esoteric and and has more to do with your heart.
This difference becomes even more clear when we examine the passage presented above. In Jesus illustration we see the religious person expressing just how pious he is and how he has followed all the rules and obligations and is actually trying to obligate God to him for his religious behavior. The publican on the other hand understood he was unworthy of God's grace, that there was nothing he could DO to merit God's love. The religious man believed he had God's approval based on what he did not on the understanding of who God is.
For me that is the real difference, the publican knew and understood God, The Pharisee knew and understood religion.
When you know and understand God (as best as you can) you begin to have a relationship with Him and now you do religious things not because of a sense of obligation but rather because you Love He who first Loved you and you want to please Him knowing you do not NEED to do it to please Him, but because you want to. The Psalmist expressed this so well when he wrote;
Psa 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
One more question came up during that conversation with my friend, "How do we get religious in the first place?"
I gave a quick answer that I believe is correct and that is, that it is a generational thing. To a large extent I believe that is true. A person has a direct experience with God and he tries to express the inexpressible to the next generation, but the next generation misses the fact that the previous generation began with a personal, direct, revelation of God and His truths, so they see the outward expression of the first generations love and excitement, what non believers would call, "religious practices", and the next generation codifies it expecting those "religious practices" to result in the experience. Understand that the next Generation does not necessarily have to be a literal generation. Each generation then adds to the previous gen's code of religious practice. The History of the Jews from Moses to Jesus exemplifies this.
We must guard against becoming religious, Jesus did not like religion, He saw it as a block to true relationship with Him.
May God Bless you and keep you